I was the winner! I couldn’t believe I had actually won something amazing! The contest that I entered was being presented by Zone Naturals in partnership with The Curvy Fashionista and Travel Divas. The prize was a 6 night Caribbean cruise with three stops at Half Moon Cay, Bahamas, Grand Turk, and Amber Cove, Dominican Republic. If you know anything about me at all you would understand how much I love the Caribbean islands. The powdery sand, the bright sunshine, swaying palm trees and the clear aqua waters are the icing on my cake called life. When combined with the fact that I would be traveling with a ‘curvy’ group of women I thought it was too good to be true! October couldn’t come soon enough.
Before I became such an advocate for size inclusivity and began my own personal journey with Body Kindness I would’ve instantly thought about the following:
1. How much time I had to diet to get to a point to feel good about myself.
2. What diet I would go on and how hungry and miserable I would be.
3. How often I would need to kill myself in the gym.
4. How I was totally going to fail 1-3 and how much I hated my size and myself – why couldn’t I just magically be thin?!
This time, I did NONE of these things. I continued my body kindness journey and carried on about my life in my plus size body; happy, healthy and confident.
Let’s call this cruise the TCF Cruise as it was hosted primarily by The Curvy Fashionista based in Atlanta, GA. TCF is causing quite the stir in the plus size fashion industry with Marie Denee Leggette at the wheel. TCF also heads up a giant annual Style Expo in Atlanta featuring plus-size bloggers, influencers, fashion icons, brands, speakers, networking and of course shopping. For me to be a part of the TCF Cruise this year felt like fate, like I belonged on that ship! How could I connect with these women and share my personal story and message? I couldn’t wait to tell them about our Body Kindness group here in Louisville!
I was sporting my BKPSWE shirt when I boarded the Carnival Magic on October 6 in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. I had been placed in an interior stateroom on level 2 with another lady named Michelle from Tampa, FL. I met Michelle in the arrival terminal and we walked onto the ship together. The ship was beautiful. It had a lot of old school character. It was not a modern ship but that was ok with me. It seemed to have a lot of history and I could tell I was going to have a blast. We were welcomed with a high energy dance party on the Lido deck where I ordered my first frozen Caribbean Colada. The Carnival Magic was complete with many restaurants, food options, a water slide, 2 pools, a theater, a sprawling casino and much more. The TCF group was scheduled for dinner each night at the same table, so getting to know each other was easy! There were 26 traveling with TCF and Travel Divas. The women in this group were amazing, funny, witty, curvy, confident and lots of fun. I didn’t know anyone on the entire ship, so if I wanted this to be memorable I was going to have to insert myself into conversations and push my comfort zones. This is not a new thing for me. BKPSWE Louisville has new members joining daily so meeting new people is a big and rewarding part of my life.
The first two days were about getting our sea legs, and mother nature was determined to give them to us! The rocking from the ocean swells was causing a lot of problems in our bellies. Although a lot of us were green in the face we kept attempting to settle our stomachs with ginger ale, dramamine, and alcohol. Hey, for those of us with the drink packages we were not letting our sea sickness keep us from our 15 drinks a day allowance! TCF had a Denim and Pearls mixer scheduled the first afternoon – complete with bacon wrapped scallops, bahama mamas, The Wobble, and a welcome briefing from Shanterria Earley, CEO/Owner of Travel Divas and Marie Leggette of The Curvy Fashionista. I did venture out solo once we ported in Half Moon Cay, Bahamas which is a private island owned by Carnival. My roommate went off to check out the shopping scene but I just wanted to get in that bright blue aqua water, with a drink in my hand of course. Dinner on day two was a themed kaftan party. I had purchased an inexpensive teal and pink kaftan for this event and it looked great! All of the ladies looked colorful and radiant. That evening the ship had a Halloween costume party on the lido deck. A woman with a giant lighted squid costume won the costume contest! The rest of the night was spent dancing to the DJ on the Serenity Deck with Michelle and a few other ladies in the group. At this point, not an ounce of energy had been wasted worrying about my size. I was rocking my cute new bathing suits and outfits without a care in the world. Why hadn’t all my previous vacations been this effortless?
By the third and fourth days the seas finally calmed and we went into port at Grand Turk and Amber Cove, DR. Both islands were stunningly beautiful. Grand Turk had an enormous pool, Margaritaville and excellent shopping. Amber Cove was mountainous, lush, green and also had wonderful shopping and excursion options. One night after dinner on the ship we played a game with about 100 other people called Quest, which may or may not have involved some very risque challenges involving articles of clothing. Needless to say, it was the craziest game I have ever played! Both evenings the ladies and I made pit stops in the casino to press our luck, only to crash and burn.
Days five and six were spent poolside with the girls. We had amazing conversations under the carribean sun. I really wanted to share about my plus size group here in Louisville. Once I had everyone’s ear I explained to them my passions, who BKPSWE is and what we stand for. They thought it was incredible and some of them had never heard of a such a thing. “A group that embraces big girls exists? Is it a weight loss group?” one of the ladies asked. ‘No!” I replied. “We don’t even talk about it, in fact we refrain from weight loss talk. We actually strive to build healthy relationships with our plus size bodies. We like to dance, shop, exercise, do yoga, go to the movies, have book discussions, eat, drink, talk, cry, laugh, and have fun!” The last night was spent attending a Lip-Sync Battle in the theater and then heading to the Lido deck to chit chat under the stars. On October 12, we said our goodbyes, traded emails and social media handles, and disembarked the Carnival Magic.
I was truly blessed to have this opportunity to meet such wonderful women. Travel Divas was organized, professional and really took care of us. I was also a tad star-struck to hang with Marie Leggette of TCF all week. Marie was so humble and down to earth, I admire her work and her passions. She even offered some amazing advice and answered all of my questions. I am so happy to share the same body loving, size inclusive mindset, and focus that she puts forth on her impressive online platform and personal brand. I really hope that someday I have the same impact in the plus size community. All of the ladies in the TCF cruise group were curvy and loving it. Their confidence on that ship was beaming! I hope these girls feel the same about their bodies on the inside as they are projecting on the outside. Truly loving and accepting yourself and your body begins on the inside and works its way out. Body Kindness is a journey of unlearning all of the negative self talk, saying no diet culture, body respect, joyful movement, intuitive eating, mirror work, positive self affirmations, spending time with other body positive people and letting go of all the untrue ‘imperfections’ that never existed in the first place.
TCF will have another cruise next year. I most likely will not win the contest for a second time but I will start saving now for my ticket and I expect more Louisvillians to follow suit! Bon voyage!
Get into more plus size empowerment with Daneé HERE! You can also connect with local group Body Kindness Plus Size Women Empowerment HERE!